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Manic Mondays Vol 1

a sampling of my current open tabs…

 

Oh! That’s why I always dance when I have to pee!

Not what I would have immediately picked as the best book I’ve read on writing. But still a good and interesting choice.

Easily the coolest and most helpful infographic I’ve ever seen.

Would you stand in line for hours for this ice cream? Looks very cool, even I’ll admit that.

Wanna look good (or better) naked? Here’s a shortcut.

March Links

Anyone can create mediocre content. Creating content that has been published, republished, reworked, and repurposed a million times is easy.

But creating valuable, relevant, quality content is hard. It takes time, effort, energy, resources, and knowledge.

CoSchedule Blog – How To Plan A Content Creation Process Your Small Business Can Actually Achieve

 

You might feel overwhelmed too. And you might think that everyone knows more than you.

Don’t despair.

You already have valuable skills and knowledge. You know more than you think you do. It’s a common human trait to think others know more than we do.

Boost Blog Traffic – How to Catapult Yourself from Diddly Squat to a Booming Online Career

 

There are upsides abound for using modern technology to organize your time: it’s faster, more efficient, and more environmentally friendly (although technically, jury’s still out on that one). Technology syncs you up to your colleagues and clients—Outlook calendar invites aren’t going away any time soon. It’s more portable, requires less neatness, and needs no external implement beyond your finger. But there’s something to be said for the simplicity and artistry engendered by a pen-to-paper approach to managing your time and tasks.

99u – Step Away from the iPhone: The Case for a Paper Planner

 

You might struggle for the right words to describe your work or be uncertain about how to position yourself. Odds are pretty good that you wrote your About page in a fit of desperation when you really needed one, and you’ve studiously avoided looking at it since.

Men With Pens – 6 Strategies for a Powerful About Page

 

The Complete Guide To Successful Creative Outsourcing – Part 1

Picture this.

You’re a budding, strapping young entrepreneur. You’ve finally quit your day job and are ready to take on the wonderful world of business and making money from your creative talents on your own terms.

Now fast forward six months. You beginning to realize this whole entrepreneur things is a tad more challenging than you originally thought. But that doesn’t discourage you. You just remap up and double your efforts. You’re going to succeed at this thing if it kills you.

Now fast forward another year or so. Your hard work is paying off big time. You’ve got all the clients (or are making all the sales) you can handle. Money is flowing. But so is the work. You can’t remember the last time you took ans ACTUAL day off. You’re fast approaching burnout and you’re starting to realize that the more you grow your business, the more work you give to yourself. Instead of enjoying your business, you’re not starting to resent the hell out of it.

So now let me ask you, is this why you got into this thing?

No, right?

You got into business for a number of reasons but I’ll bet that one of them was freedom. You wanted freedom from an oppressive schedule. You wanted freedom from your sucky boss. You wanted freedom from the mundane, daily grind. You wanted freedom from being bogged down with work that doesn’t matter to you at all.

So what’s the point of leaving your job into to be free only to end up being a slave to your business?

Here’s something I bet you didn’t know. You can’t do everything yourself.

*gasp*

I know, I know. Messes up your whole shit doesn’t it?

But if you want your business to grow, you’re going to eventually have to learn to get out of your own way and out of the way of your business growth.

That means you’re going to have to outsource and hire a team.

What Is Outsourcing?

Outsourcing is really just a fancy way of saying hiring. It differs slightly from traditional hiring in that with traditional hiring, there are set hours, usually a minimum, and other legal and tax considerations due to the person becoming an employee of your company. Outsourcing is much more flexible. You can outsource based on a set of tasks or a specific project. You can set the length and the terms. And the person you outsource to is more of a contractor than an employee, which means among other things that they are in charge of handling their own tax compliance etc.

You’re paying someone to do things in your business.

What things?

-Those repetitive, tedious, but necessary things. Like bookkeeping.

-Those things you may not be that great at. Like setting up a WordPress blog. (That’s why you’d hire me. Heh.)

-Those thing you just plain don’t like doing. Like tackling that ever-growing email inbox.

Now I know this sounds like scary stuff and you may be thinking some things about all this.

But what if they don’t do it as well as I do?

What if they do it better? Now your customers are even happier. Happy customers are referring customers. More customers equals more money. Besides you will absolutely be taking the time to train your new hires and set clear expectations when it comes tot he work you want done. That’s what good bosses do.

I don’t know if I want to give up control of my business.

Relax. You’re not giving up control. This is not The Matrix where the machines take over and blow everything up (sorry, I was up late watching that movie…one of my faves). This is still your business and you call the shots. Including who to bring on and who to let go. If anything you’re freeing yourself up so you can even more efficiently take the reigns.

What if the person I hire really messes tings up?

Start slow. Obviously you don’t want to hand over control of your businesses most important and most sensitive aspects right away. If the person you’ve hired is good, then you can take your time and work up to that, averting any major disasters. It’s unfortunate but sometimes things don’t work out. And you have to make the sometimes difficult decision not to keep someone. It happens. It sucks. But you don’t need to hurt your business to spare someone’s feelings.

This sounds like it’s gonna cost too much money.

Again, start slowly. Don’t hire a 10 person, full time staff right off the bat. Start with one person a few hours at a time. Scale up when you get busier and feel more comfortable.

But, and this goes without saying, but I”m going to say it anyway. You need to be at a point in your business were you’re making some money. If you’re not bringing in much revenue, it’s not time for you to hire just yet.

Am I still needed?

Absolutely! You still need to be at the helm of everything, setting the direction and steering the business on the course you’ve laid out. You need to be the one taking things to the next level. You’ll never be able to be replaced in your business because there are those things that only you can do. Outsourcing the other things frees you up so that you can do more of that.

Case Study

I’d always wanted to add a publishing branch to my business, being the passionate lover of books that I am. I also knew that pulling it off would take a whole lot of work. As per usual, I was juggling several other projects as well. I knew I was going to need help. I had a friend who was an operations consultant for small businesses so I reached out to her. After one session, we had ironed out a solid plan of what needed to happen over the next three months to get this thing off the ground. Over the next three months, she researched and developed processes and procedures for client intake, evaluation, editing guidelines. She even drew up a contract and wrote a manual for future internal people. The technical stuff, design and layout procedures, were left to me since it’s what I do best.

At the end of the three months, we also had a beta group of four authors to test our process out on.

We decided on a price for the quarter and I broke that down into monthly payments over three months. I gave her a list of clear objectives and an end game.

If it weren’t for her, I’d probably still be brainstorming this; taking a lot of notes but getting a whole lot of nothing done.

So here are five reasons you should outsource.

1. Get more done. I really hate to burst your bubble but you simply can’t do everything yourself. There just isn’t enough time. In the beginning, when you’re starting out and things are slow, then yes, it’s easy to maintain the various parts of your business as a one man show. But when they start to ramp up, when things start really going well for you, trying to do it all yourself is the surest way to stunt your growth. Outsourcing will free you up to focus on the most important things.

2. Make more money. By freeing yourself up, you can focus on your core money making tasks. This is huge, especially if you’re in a service based business that primarily works with clients. There are only so many hours in the day, which means that there are a limited amount of hours you can bill. When you bring on help, those hours, and subsequently those dollars now have the potential to magically multiply.

3. Get the important things done. Everyone likes to see things get done. But just because you know how to do a certain task, doesn’t mean you’re the right person to do it. Your time and energy is often better spent doing more important things. Finding new business, keeping your existing clients happy, or just making sure everything that needs to be done to keep your core business strong, is done.

4. Skills. Given time anyone can learn any skillset, but time is often a luxury we don’t always have. Not only do you need the best talent in the world, but you need lots of it. Outsourcing gives you an option of going outside the resources you have to bring in the skills you need, and often more affordable than someone local.

5. Synergy. Ever been in a room with other people working toward a coming goal and the ideas and everything just flows in a way that is truly magical. Yeah, that. It takes time and energy to achieve that but you can certainly build a team where the whole is greater than the sum of the parts.

outsourcing infographic

The Huge Copywriting Mistake I Bet You're Still Making

copywriting mistakes

Lean in. I’m gonna tell you a secret.

Ready?

*whispers*

No one cares about you.

Harsh, I know.

But the sooner you accept it the better.

So now let’s fast forward into the future where you’ve accepted the fact that no one cares about you (except maybe your mother). You know this now with every fiber of your being. So why are you still writing your sales copy as if it were true?

Obviously this hyperbole. Someone out there cares about you. Probably many people do.

But people never lose sight about what’s in it for them.

Stale copy that tells the story of your business and why you’re qualified and yadda yadda yadda is nice but will not consistently convert. There are a million and one other businesses with that same copy.

Instead, tell people about their favorite subject. Themselves.

Tell them who they are as a person and that you understand them because you’re just like them. And then tell how working with you/buying your product etc. Will benefit them and make their lives better than they could ever possibly imagine. That’s what they want to hear. That’s what will convert time and time again.

Stop talking about you. Start talking about them. Or at the very least talk about them first and then yourself a little bit at the end.

Why Creative Entrepreneurs Need Playtime

Inspiration

Do you make time to play?

No that’s not a trick question (and no, I don’t mean it that way, either…)

Stay with me here.

As entrepreneurs, we wear many, many hats. We can very easily get so involved in the different aspects of our businesses that we get caught up. And then it seems like all we do is work.

In most cases, we’re fine with that. we like the work. We live for the work.

But we should also make time for pure, unadulterated play.

If you’re in a creative field, let’s say design, you know doubt have to familiarize yourself with various software programs in order to serve your clients. But how about setting aside a day, or even an hour, to play with some new software just because?

Write just because?

Paint just because?

Take pictures just because?

I’m telling you the kindergarten classes hit it so on the head with the mandatory playtime (and mid-afternoon naps I might also add).

Play around with new techniques, new words, new materials, new programs…whatever. Play around in your choices are. Just because.

There are several benefits to this.

One is that, contrary to popular beliefs, breaks can actually help you be more productive. Especially when those breaks are calculated and filled with creative activity.

Second, you get some practice. I don’t care how much of an “expert” in your chosen field you think you are. Everyone could use more practice. With practice you get better. And getting better leads to happier clients. Happier clients will, in most cases, translate to more money. Boo ya! See what I did there?

And lastly, playtime helps you get those creative juices flowing. Especially useful if you’re in a creative rut. New ideas can breathe new life into your business and your brand (and you general sense of well being and fulfillment)

So I hereby order you to schedule in some unstructured, un-deadlined, not-related-to-any-specific-client-project playtime.  Hop to it kids.

Casual Fridays Vol 1

 

CF1

 

My new planner. I LOVE it!

 

CF2

 

And of course I had to get the iPad case to match.

 

CF3

My favorite assistants….

 

 

CF4

My card reading from yesterday.  Ominous looking right?

CF5

 

Sometimes my bed is my office…

 

Success? There's An App For That

We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence, then, is not an act, but a habit.

-Aristotle

Truer words have never been spoken.

There’s no big magic secret to being successful folks.

Know what you want. Write it down. Make a plan. Work on it everyday.

That’s it.

But people seem to have the most trouble with the “work on it everyday” part.

Well, like most everything else these days, there’s an app for that.

The Full app, available in the iOS app store for .99 cents is a fun way to track your progress with the habits you want to create.

They say it takes 21 days to develop a new habit (has this ever been proven by the way? I think I need to see receipts).

Now this is super useful when it comes to your personal life but it can also be really helpful in your business life too.

Let’s say you want to do better with following up with clients. Or want to be better at bookkeeping.

Enter that goal into the Full app.

the-full-app-3

 

You can set daily, weekly or monthly goals. Enter the goal name and what your target number of days is for the month. Now every day you do that thing, you swipe and it adds to your total count for the month.

It’s basically a higher tech version of putting that big red X on your calendar.

I can’t tell you how satisfying it is to hear that ‘ding’ at the end of the day when I track my goals and habits. Full will also send you push notifications reminding you to actually track your goals, lest you uh, forget.

Why You Should Be Outsourcing

Picture this.

You’re a budding, strapping young entrepreneur. You’ve finally quit your day job and are ready to take on the wonderful world of business and making money from your creative talents on your own terms.

Now fast forward six months.

You’re beginning to realize this whole entrepreneur thing is a tad more challenging than you originally thought. But that doesn’t discourage you. You just ramp up and double your efforts. You’re going to succeed at this thing if it kills you.

Now fast forward another year or so.

Your hard work is paying off big time. You’ve got all the clients (or are making all the sales) you can handle. Money is flowing. But so is the work. You can’t remember the last time you took an ACTUAL day off. You’re fast approaching burnout and you’re starting to realize that the more you grow your business, the more work you give to yourself. Instead of enjoying your business, you’re starting to resent the hell out of it.

So now let me ask you. Is this why you got into this thing?

No, right?

You got into business for a number of reasons but I’ll bet that one of them was freedom. You wanted freedom from an oppressive schedule. You wanted freedom from your sucky boss. You wanted freedom from the mundane, daily grind. You wanted freedom from being bogged down with work that doesn’t matter to you at all.

So what’s the point of leaving your job in order to be free only to end up being a slave to your business?

Here’s something I bet you didn’t know. You can’t do everything yourself.

*gasp*

I know, I know. Messes up your whole shit doesn’t it?

But if you want your business to grow, you’re going to eventually have to learn to get out of your own way and out of the way of your business growth.

That means you’re going to have to outsource and hire a team.

What Is Outsourcing?

Outsourcing is really just a fancy way of saying hiring. It differs slightly from traditional hiring in that with traditional hiring, there are set hours, usually a minimum, and other legal and tax considerations due to the person becoming an employee of your company. Outsourcing is much more flexible. You can outsource based on a set of tasks or a specific project. You can set the length and the terms. And the person you outsource to is more of a contractor than an employee, which means among other things that they are in charge of handling their own tax compliance etc.

You’re paying someone to do things in your business.

What things?

-Those repetitive, tedious, but necessary things. Like bookkeeping.

-Those things you may not be that great at. Like setting up a WordPress blog. (That’s why you’d hire me. Heh.)

-Those thing you just plain don’t like doing. Like tackling that ever-growing email inbox.

Now I know this sounds like scary stuff and you may be thinking some things about all this.

But what if they don’t do it as well as I do?

What if they do it better? Now your customers are even happier. Happy customers are referring customers. More customers equals more money. Besides you will absolutely be taking the time to train your new hires and set clear expectations when it comes tot he work you want done. That’s what good bosses do.

I don’t know if I want to give up control of my business.

Relax. You’re not giving up control. This is not The Matrix where the machines take over and blow everything up (sorry, I was up late watching that movie…one of my faves). This is still your business and you call the shots. Including who to bring on and who to let go. If anything you’re freeing yourself up so you can even more efficiently take the reigns.

What if the person I hire really messes things up?

Start slowly. Obviously you don’t want to hand over control of your business’s most important and most sensitive aspects right away. If the person you’ve hired is good, then you can take your time and work up to that, averting any major disasters. It’s unfortunate but sometimes things don’t work out. And you have to make the sometimes difficult decision not to keep someone. It happens. It sucks. But you don’t need to hurt your business to spare someone’s feelings.

This sounds like it’s gonna cost too much money.

Again, start slowly. Don’t hire a 10 person, full time staff right off the bat. Start with one person a few hours at a time. Scale up when you get busier and feel more comfortable.

But, and this goes without saying, but I’m going to say it anyway. You need to be at a point in your business where you’re making some money. If you’re not bringing in much revenue, it’s not time for you to hire just yet.

Am I still needed?

Absolutely! You still need to be at the helm of everything, setting the direction and steering the business on the course you’ve laid out. You need to be the one taking things to the next level. You’ll never be able to be replaced in your business because there are those things that only you can do. Outsourcing the other things frees you up so that you can do more of that.

Case Study

I’d always wanted to add a publishing branch to my business, being the passionate lover of books that I am. I also knew that pulling it off would take a whole lot of work. As per usual, I was juggling several other projects as well at the time. I knew I was going to need help. I had a friend who was an operations consultant for small businesses so I reached out to her. After one session, we had ironed out a solid plan of what needed to happen over the next three months to get this thing off the ground. Over the next three months, she researched and developed processes and procedures for client intake, evaluation, editing guidelines. She even drew up a contract and wrote a manual for future internal people. The technical stuff, design and layout procedures, were left to me since it’s what I do best.

At the end of the three months, we also had a beta group of four authors to test our process out on.

We decided on a price for the quarter and I broke that down into monthly payments over three months. I gave her a list of clear objectives and an end game.

If it weren’t for her, I’d probably still be brainstorming this; taking a lot of notes but getting a whole lot of nothing done.

So here are five reasons you should outsource

1. Get more done. I really hate to burst your bubble but you simply can’t do everything yourself. There just isn’t enough time. In the beginning, when you’re starting out and things are slow, then yes, it’s easy to maintain the various parts of your business as a one man show. But when they start to ramp up, when things start really going well for you, trying to do it all yourself is the surest way to stunt your growth. Outsourcing will free you up to focus on the most important things.

2. Make more money. By freeing yourself up, you can focus on your core money making tasks. This is huge, especially if you’re in a service based business that primarily works with clients. There are only so many hours in the day, which means that there are a limited amount of hours you can bill. When you bring on help, those hours, and subsequently those dollars now have the potential to magically multiply.

3. Priorities. Everyone likes to see things get done. But just because you know how to do a certain task, doesn’t mean you’re the right person to do it. Your time and energy is often better spent doing more important things. Finding new business, keeping your existing clients happy, or just making sure everything that needs to be done to keep your core business strong, is done.

4. Skills. Given time anyone can learn any skill set, but time is often a luxury we don’t always have. Not only do you need the best talent in the world, but you need lots of it. Outsourcing gives you an option of going outside the resources you have to bring in the skills you need, and often more affordable than someone local.

5. Synergy. Ever been in a room with other people working toward a coming goal and the ideas and everything just flows in a way that is truly magical. Yeah, that. It takes time and energy to achieve that but you can certainly build a team where the whole is greater than the sum of the parts.

Chew on this for now. Next up, we’ll talk about exactly what you can and should outsource.

What's Your Why?

why

We hear this a lot nowadays.

The whole question of why…discovering your higher purpose etc.

Sometimes it can sound a bit woo woo.

But there is some wisdom in it.

In business we have good days and we have bad days. Connecting to a solid why will help you navigate through those bad days and help you remember why you stared doing what it is you do in the first place.

So ask yourself this…and really take some time to ponder it.

Why does your business exist other than to make money?

Tell me your why in the comments.

Salutations (that's from charlotte's Web in case you didn't know...excellent book)

Get in touch with me!